Future of city and rural water on the table

As time moves on, municipalities around the country are looking to the future and water availability.

Water Plant

Posted on 9/14/13

By Lee Coleman

The flash points are the quantity of water and the quality.

Locally, both points are in question. Currently, the quantity of water for Langdon and the Langdon Rural Water district is directly influenced by weather conditions at Mt. Carmel Dam and Mulberry Creek.

A drought condition could potentially evaporate valuable water. Secondly, the quality issue is a concern because of the difficulty of treating hard, surface water from both locations.

In recent times, a project to remedy both issues was discussed and submitted at the state level with the Water Commission for a potential 50/50 split between Langdon and the rural water district.

The project would consist of a well being drilled in the water aquifer in Munich and the water being pumped and piped some 13 miles into an updated water treatment plant in Langdon for distribution to city users and the rural water district.

The price tag submitted for Municipal, Rural and Industrial funding was about $13 million with nearly $3 million allocated for the water treatment plant.

According to the proposal, 75 percent of the costs would be absorbed by grant money while the city would have to raise loan money to pay the balance.

At issue now is whether, one) will $13 million be enough money to complete the projected three-year project and two) will the city and the rural water district be able to come together and work out an agreement between the entities.

As such, the state Water Commission has recognized the issues at hand and issued a hold on the funding and the well permitting until questions are resolved.

Kent Ritterman of Moore Engineering told the Langdon city commission Monday night he thought the costs could rise another six to seven million.

“There are three scenarios. A big plant, a 50/50 plant or a city plant,” he said.

“It would be nice to know what our real costs will be. What is our share and what is the real number?

“We have to get to the bottom of it.”

Steps were taken by the commission to resolve the well permit issue which involved two names on the permit request causing the state to balk and issue a mandate for only one name.

The commission responded and passed a motion to re-submit the permit in the City of Langdon name only.

Now, it comes down to the city and the rural water district opening dialogue to work through the issues although rural water is firmly entrenched in a 40-year contract with the city for water services.

“The main thing is, the two entities need to get together and come together on an agreement satisfactory for both and the state Water Commission recognizes that,” Ritterman explained.

“Both parties need to come together for this funding and project to move forward. Nothing has been taken away, the state wants the parties to come together.”

Tapping into the Munich aquifer could be a win-win for everyone.

“The biggest thing is you wouldn’t have the taste and odor issues that are out there today with the Mt. Carmel and pond water,” Ritterman said. “You’d get away from that part of it. The aquifer is still tough water.

“It can be high in sulfates and those things would have to be brought down to acceptable levels.”

Ritterman added the taste factor is one of the biggest reasons to get away from hard, surface water.

“The aquifer would be a consistent source of water,” he noted.

“The Water Commission would look at it as being a good source of water for Langdon and rural water for years to come.”